Broaching the topic with your teen can feel overwhelming — but no one ever said raising a teenager was a picnic. Stay strong! Maintaining open lines of communication with your teen is vital.
Talk. Don’t threaten counseling.
Tell them the concerns you are having. Many times teens are self-aware enough that they know they need help in dealing with whatever issues they are experiencing. You may find them not only open to the idea, but more open with you as well. DO NOT make the idea of seeing a therapist or psychiatrist a form of punishment for bad behaviors. “Change your ways or else I’m taking you to a therapist,” is not the way to create the trust and openness that will be required. Instead, explain that there are professionals whose sole purpose is to help others deal with experiences/stressors/trauma in a healthier way.
Don’t put the counseling conversation off.
If you’ve noticed symptoms or warning signs, the time for patience is over. There’s always the risk of symptoms worsening and possibly leading to more significant consequences. Failing school or getting caught up in the legal system are not uncommon occurrences. More importantly, there is a significant risk to life if self-harming or suicidal behaviors are not addressed.
Make sure they know that you’re in this together.
Every situation is different in scope and scale. Treatment will likewise be different for each teen. However, consistency will always be king. Once counseling is started it is vital that families are consistent with participation. Tell them you will be there, then be there, and be ready to return. Inconsistency makes it difficult to treat issues and families will rarely see progress in this case.
Contact Necco to learn more or to ask questions. We accept self-referrals as well as a referral from your doctor or hospital.